Unruh chosen as newest Houston school board member

School board also names new elementary school, elects board leaders

jmink@macon.comMarch 12, 2013 

PERRY -- Richard Unruh devoted more than 35 years to education before retiring from his media specialist job with Houston County schools. But he was not finished influencing students.

Unruh now has a chance to continue serving the educational community as the newest Houston County school board member. The Houston County Board of Education unanimously voted for Unruh during its meeting Tuesday.

“I’m rather humbled and kind of excited,” Unruh said.

Unruh was chosen from five candidates who were vying for the Post 1 position. That district, which was vacated after the resignation of former board Chairman Tom Walmer, includes Thomson Middle School, Northside High School and several elementary schools.

“We had five very qualified individuals that stepped up to serve,” board member Helen Hughes said. “But we had to make a decision.”

Unruh’s experience with technology played a big role in the decision, particularly as the school system moves forward with $26 million in technology upgrades, which are funded through the education special purpose local option sales tax, board Chairwoman Marianne Melnick said. As a former media specialist at Northside and Houston County high schools, Unruh’s technology background will be useful, she said.

Also, as a recent retiree from the school system, Unruh can provide a fresh perspective from an educator’s point of view, she said.

“He brings a unique perspective to the board,” she said. “And he’s a strong advocate of teachers and principals.”

In addition to his role as media specialist, Unruh was a choral teacher at Northside High School for 15 years and at Barnwell School in South Carolina for about three years.

“I’ve been in education as a teacher for 35-plus years,” he said. “And I just wanted a way to contribute to the local education community.”

The board also:

• Chose Langston Road Elementary School as the name for the new school in Perry. Fred Wilson recommended the name for the new school, which is scheduled to be completed in August 2014.

• Named Cindy Flesher the new superintendent of school operations. Flesher, the current executive director of elementary operations, will replace Linda Horne, who will retire in May.

• Unanimously elected Fred Wilson as vice chairman of the board. Marianne Melnick also was officially elected chairwoman.

• Approved a nearly $795,000 contract for security vestibules in 14 elementary schools. The vestibules are expected to be installed by February 2014, said Jason Daniel, director of facilities.

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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